Next time you’re browsing through Indeed or handing your crumpled CV out around town, ever wondered what it might be like to sack it all off and do work experience with Pond Life instead? Harry found out after winning a comp at its fourth birthday ‘do...
Pond Life is a party that doesn't take itsen too seriously, though the locations and bass-heavy lineups it locks down are anything but laughable.
Primarily an event for late night dancing, it’s also become known for its branded sportswear, streetwear and tongue-in-cheek accessories that sell out fast via its online shop and pop up stores. Damon Harasym launched it all in 2015 as an 18 year old that had been chomping at the bit, eager to get involved in the music scene he’d been absorbing for years.
“By time I was old enough to go to all the grime/dubstep raves that I'd been hearing about from older lads, watching documentaries like Bassweight, Dubfiles, Who's Da Boss on YouTube, a lot of them had disappeared along with a lot of the good venues to do them in. I'd been producing and DJing while waiting to be allowed into clubs and when I was old enough, there wasn't many places left to finally play out at.
“Luckily people like Mimm, Tumble, and Wigflex were still doing quality parties but it wasn't always the old dubstep and grime sound I was after; they'd already been doing that for years and was evolving as you do.”
Brought up by a family of self-made business owners and amplified by an urge to fill a cultural gap, it’s no wonder the event went hand in hand with an offshoot clothing brand, and from the start set out to do things beyond the ‘sweaty black box’ norm.
“My mum's had her punk clothing manufacturing business for 30 years now, and my Dad had his big window cleaning round doing most of the city centre's venues and shops, so I think a DIY mentality is in my blood. I just started to throw my ideal party that I'd go to myself.
“I always wanted to keep it homegrown, in weird venues that our people would never have stepped in (old haunted gothic pubs, back room of a rock n roll recording studio in Carlton, our festival at a Biker/Modded Car venue in Eastwood, old cold store room in a brewery, ex-skate park in Sneinton, and being involved in the 'DJ lessons' at Rushcliffe Leisure Centre)
“Basically, just getting hold of places what no one's ever used before, investing heavily in lighting and decor and making sure we keep ticket prices cheap. I just get all my mates in one room, always use the soundsystem that we all chucked in together to build (Resonant Sounds), with a line up of DJ's who I respect.”
The competition seemed like a good excuse to give something back and have more of a laugh at the party, ‘break the third wall’ or whatever they call it...
Following on from Pond Life’s Pawn Shop (a shopping event at Mimm store a few months back), summertime water bash and a few warehouse parties too, ahead of its fourth birthday at Alberts it pulled out all the stops with a whopper of a comp to celebrate.
Alongside a 13-strong selection of VIP tickets and Notts Forest accessories, Pond Life branded hi-vis vests and champagne, a pass to stand behind the decks and some massages from various local establishments, ‘1 Day Work Experience at Pond Life HQ’ was also on offer for one lucky attendee. Cue a stream of ravers furiously bashing ‘going’ to enter, one of which was 22 year old Harry Simpson, who had his eyes firmly on the bubbly, the spa and, luckily enough, the day’s graft - though as he entered the comp, he didn’t know he’d come out a winner.
Damon tells us:
“The competition seemed like a good excuse to give something back and have more of a laugh at the party, ‘break the third wall’ or whatever they call it. I think a lot of events can be a bit serious with six hours of just music and not much interaction with the audience, so it was funny to give away some random bits at the end of the night. It all creates more memories doesn't it.”
And here’s what Harry remembers:
“It was pretty funny because I didn’t expect to win anything to be honest. I thought it was wicked how they had a small 20 minute gap to announce all the winners. It got people laughing, chanting and taking videos which is nice because you fully feel the whole community of people with the same interest as you in the room.
“I was thrilled when the host called my name out for the work experience prize. I’ve always been intrigued by how Pond Life do it, whether it’s raves in unknown locations or the festival they put on one summer. When I got told the next day the work experience would be with Sterling Sports Media it was a shock as I didn’t realise they had a sub brand doing media however I was still very excited, as I am interested in that kind of work.”
Dialing up DJs, scouting out venues, photoshopping together some flyers or mocking up the next bit of merch seem like the sort of thing you’d be doing when helping out the Notts-based bass-heavy party and clothing company; as it turns out, there’s no wonder their graphics are better than yer average, ‘cause promoter Damon Harasym runs a fully fledged sports videography and photography business too, filming for clubs as Sterling Sports Media.
From booth to pitch, both raves and sports are no doubt united through a mirrored energy, passion, loyalty, ‘uniform’ and lots of sweaty punters so really, it’s not that surprising...
Harry tells us what happened:
“On a cold, Tuesday night down at The Grange park I had the opportunity to video alongside Damon. I was set up with a tripod and camera, capturing the end-to-end football at Long Eaton United. I’ve actually just started studying photography at NTU, so it was cracking as I got to put into practice what I’ve been learning in the classroom.
“After getting set up, I was thrilled when I saw Damon walking over with some cheese sandwiches and angel cake slices from the 'executive suite' (portakabin where the coaches and managers knock abaht) - a luxurious surprise I’d never been treated to when working with other companies. Overall, my time was brilliant and I enjoyed every second of it. I also learnt a lot about the angles of filming football and which shots worked best.
“When Damon sent me the finished video I was highly impressed and would love to do more with them in the future.”
Luckily, Damon was fond of Harry too. Here’s his performance review:
“He’s a good man - shame about the missing tooth. I wonder how he lost it but it’s best not to ask them things isn't it. It turns out he's been playing cricket and football since he was about seven years old. Without a doubt I’d hire him, he did all the in-game footage of a Long Eaton United FA Cup match for me and the club was over the moon with it. Definitely has a knack for that tripod.”
So, what do you get when you chuck together a party promoter with a knack for building a brand, a stroke of pot luck and a cold evening filming in Long Eaton?
Finally - what would Damon have said if the winner of his Notts Forest scarf was a county fan?
“Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”.
Pond Life’s next event will be on 12th April, Bank Holiday Sunday, in Nottingham City centre.